Tami took me on a trip down Chalan Memorias (or, as Jane courteously translated, Memory Lane) today. All the great and goofy things I remembered as a child were suddenly clear as day, striking a chord deep within that answered Ed's question about why I still live here. Well, it didn't answer the question per se, more than anything it re-connected me with what was once the essence of simple enjoyment of life. Tami tagged me and others with a challenge to list as many things as I can remember (20) of the old Saipan. Boy was this both fun and nostalgic.
1. Public Health and the Dental Clinic were right next to the post office. My grandfather worked there as a dentist. He did my teeth the old fashioned way - with only topical anesthesia and a big metal plyer! "Did I spank you? Why are you crying Yvonne? Keep still and stop crying"
2. The road that hugs the Lao Lao Bay Golf Resort used to be the place where we congregated for illegal drag racing in high school. I had a CB Radio and my handle was Bon Bon. "Break, break, what's your 10-40?"
3. When I was little, my grandma used to send me and a few of my cousins across the street from Hakubotan to dig up clams and put them in a bucket. We'd take the bucket home and have the most delicious soup for dinner.
4. Descanso Night Club used to have Friday night teen nights. Parents would drop off wiley kids for an evening of semi-controlled rock and roll revelry.
5. China House Restaurant used to be in Chalan Kanoa, right at the corner of Tun Segundo Road. There was a tree beside the entrance with sour fruit that was always bearing those green elongated hairy things.
6. Speaking of restaurants, the Diaz Family had a soba house (Reiko's) in Chalan Kanoa. There was a monkey in a cage from Okinawa in the back of the restaurant. We used to go out there and try to feed it our leftovers. It had the shortest temper and would try to grab you from inside the cage.
7. Peter Fonda came to Saipan in the early 80's t0 make a low budget film at the Marpi area. It was something about killer tomatoes and it had mostly a Japanese cast, I think.
8. Another cool teenage dance hangout was The House of Taga. You can still see the building if you drive up Dan Dan Road, right up the hill from the Iglesia Ni Cristo church.
9. I remember when my dad and his friends used to sit outside the garage drinking Schlitz.
10. And, most of them drove Datsuns.
11. There was a small arcade inside the Jay's Restaurant and Bowling Alley. We always begged to go there just to play Pac Man and Space Invaders. You knew you were popular if you found your name in the bathroom stall. You knew you weren't if you got beat up when you walked through the parking lot.
12. The cleared area at the American Memorial Park, where the big water tank is driving into the Navy Hill Road was called "The Pines". We used to spot there. Everytime I drive past that place I can still "see" the trucks lined up against the wall of trees and everyone standing there laughing and drinking. Drinking Sprite and Coke, ahem.
13. I remember when getting some medicine used to mean you had to swallow your grandma's homemade concoction of bitter herbs. That, or getting a tablespoon of Vick's slathered on you.
14. The airport used to have a big restaurant in it on the second floor and a garden in the back where you could hang out before waiting for a flight. I used to play in the garden all the time while everyone waited and talked. It was the most beautiful place to me.
15. Yes, Matsumoto Theatre where Kevin's is now had the best slush. My favorite was the blue (raspberry). There was never enough ice in it, but it was good.
16. Diego's Mart was near the Shirley's across from Mt. Carmel. My friends and I used to meet at the laundromat there and hide from Sr. Mary Louise in the dryers.
17. I worked at the Saipan Farmer's Market when I was 14. It's now an auto part store in Chalan Kanoa. I had to wash down all the veggies in the mornings and discard the worms that were buried in heaps.
18. I went to the first grade at Garapan School. It was the only time I didn't go to Mt. Carmel. Hot Diggity Dog was across the street where Winchells is now. I remember it because of the song, "hot diggity, dog diggity, um whatcha do to me...Oscar Meyer's is hot dog diggity!"
19. My aunt gave birth to my God son at Dr. Torres hospital during the time when there were still such things as delivery rooms.
20. I remember flying to Guam on Continental Airlines. My uncles sat in the back of the plane, the smoking section.
I did notice that there were many places tied to eating establishments, but I'm guessing that's because there was so little to do and adults just sat and fellowshipped longer while kids like me found their way into monkey's cages and gardens. Thank you Tami, for the opportunity to look back. This was so good for me that I may expand it each time something pops up in my head.